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Archives 03-31-2010

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Counterfeit bills passed in area
Two-vehicle crash blocks Hwy 111 Thursday night

Information provided on affects of health care reform
Assistance offered to struggling taxpayers

Counterfeit bills passed in area




Counterfeit $20 bills are being passed in the Overton County area. To date, seven have been identified.

Livingston Police Department and U.S. Secret Service are investigating the bills, which all have the same serial number. Another difference from true currency is that the bills are slightly smaller than a real $20 bill.


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Two-vehicle crash blocks Hwy 111 Thursday night


A 2-vehicle crash temporarily blocked Highway 111 around 7:15 p.m. Thursday, March 25.

According to reports, a red 1993 Nissan pickup, driven by Carlos Smith, 59, of Moss, pulled onto Highway 111 near the mini-mall and as the truck was getting up to speed, it was struck in the rear by a 2006 Nissan Altima, driven by Toni Coleman, 18, of Alpine.

Both drivers were wearing seatbelts and sustained only minor injuries.
Coleman was given a citation for following improperly. Marty Philpot of Tennessee Highway Patrol investigated the incident.



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Information provided on affects of health care reform
Recently, the House of Representatives approved health insurance reform legislation.

Congressman Bart Gordon said, “Now is the time to move forward, look at how this plan benefits families and small businesses, and address the economic challenges our communities are facing.”

Under the bill’s reforms, 96% of U.S. businesses will qualify for new tax credits and will not be subject to any penalties. More than 12,000 such small businesses in Gordon’s district in Middle Tennessee will qualify for these tax cuts.

The following is how those who own a small business with 50 or fewer employees and average wages of less than $50,000 are affected by the legislation:

•You are not required to provide health insurance coverage to your employees.

•If you choose to offer health insurance, you will be able to join with other small businesses to purchase private insurance at lower group rates through a purchasing pool, or exchange, as of 2014. Through this exchange, your employees will have a wider choice of plans, group rates and lower administrative costs.

•Qualified businesses that purchase insurance through this exchange will be eligible for a tax credit of up to 50% of the cost of their part of the premium, as of 2014.

The following is how those businesses with 25 or fewer employees and average annual wages of less than $50,000 are affected:

•All of the benefits listed above apply.

•In addition, if you choose to offer your employees health insurance, you will be eligible for a tax credit of up to 35% to cover the cost beginning this year. In 2014, these tax credits will increase to 50% and will be expanded to all small businesses with fewer than 50 employees.

•If any of your employees are currently expensive to insure because of their age, a pre-existing condition, or a serious illness, insurance companies will be prohibited from charging you higher premiums due to these conditions.

•For employees at a small business who already have health insurance they are happy with, these reforms will have no effect on their current health plan, choice of insurance company or choice of doctor.

The following is how an employee of a small business whose employer does not provide health insurance will be affected:

•You may receive a tax cut to help you purchase your own insurance from the private sector, as of 2014. A family of four with an income of up to $88,200 would qualify for the credits.

•You will be able to purchase an insurance plan as an individual from private insurance companies competing in an exchange. Individuals participating in the exchange will receive group rates similar to those enjoyed by employees at large companies or members of unions.

•Because the bill will not create a government-run insurance program or public option, you will not be applying for government-run care.

•You will be able to choose from a menu of options from existing private insurance companies, similar to those available to members of Congress through the Federal Employee Health Benefits Plan.

“This bill will help young adults who are just starting out,” Congressman Bart Gordon said. “Students in college and recent graduates often find themselves in unpaid internships or at companies that do not offer affordable health insurance.”

The following is how those under 26 who do not have health insurance through an employer are affected:

•Your parents will have the option of keeping you covered by their existing family policies as a dependent until age 26, as of September 2010.

•If you are under 30 and do not have health insurance through an employer, the bill will establish new, inexpensive catastrophic insurance policies that offer protection in case of catastrophic health care costs. These policies will meet the bill’s requirements about minimum coverage for individuals under 30.

More than 12,000 residents of Gordon’s congressional district have a pre-existing condition that prevents them from getting insurance coverage. The health care reform package ensures they will have equitable access to affordable care by prohibiting insurance companies from increasing rates or dropping coverage because of a pre-existing condition or serious illness.

The following is how the bill affects those with a pre-existing condition, such as diabetes, cancer or heart disease:

•Your health plan will no longer be able to deny your child coverage because of a pre-existing condition beginning in September 2010.

•No health plan will be able to deny you coverage beginning in 2014.

•If you have health insurance and develop a serious illness, your health plan will not be permitted to drop your coverage because you get sick.

•Insurance plans will be prohibited from placing lifetime caps on your coverage beginning in September 2010.

•If you have dependent young adult children who do not currently get health care from an employer, you will have the option of keeping your children covered by your existing family policy as a dependent until age 26, effective September 2010. After age 26, individuals without employer-based insurance will be able to purchase insurance at group rates through the exchange, and they may be eligible for tax credits.

•Your health insurance plan will not be able to drop your coverage when you get sick, as of September 2010.

•Beginning 2010, annual limits in new policies will be heavily restricted.

As of 2014, no insurance policy will be able to impose annual limits, such as disease-specific annual caps.

The following is how the bill affects seniors receiving Medicare:

•You will no longer be charged co-payments for preventive services such as screenings. Preventive services will also be exempt from deductibles. This provision will be effective January 1, 2011.

•Your access to inexpensive generic drugs at local pharmacies will be protected by a correction to Medicare’s payment formula.

•If you have been affected by the Medicare Part D “donut hole” gap in prescription drug coverage, you will receive a $250 rebate for prescription drugs if you fall in the donut hole this year, you will receive a 50% discount on all brand-name drugs while in the donut hole beginning next year, and the donut hole will be phased out over the next 10 years, and will be completely closed by 2020.

•If you are a Medicare Advantage recipient, your premiums will decrease over the next 10 years because of a correction to overpayments to certain private plans. Medicare Advantage payments will be calculated based on local health care costs.

•If you are a senior from a rural county, primary care doctors and general surgeons will be offered incentive bonuses for practicing in rural areas, beginning in 2011.

The following is how the bill affects veterans:

•All insurance programs for veterans and their families are protected by this bill, including TRICARE, TRICARE for Life, and CHAMPVA.

•Veterans who have health insurance coverage through any program will not be penalized or required to change their coverage. TRICARE, TRICARE for Life, CHAMPVA, and other veterans programs already have policies that meet the bill’s requirements about minimum coverage for individuals.

•The health care reform bill makes no cuts to veterans’ services, veterans’ health care or any military or veterans programs.

To reassure veterans, the House passed an additional bill explicitly stating that veterans’ benefits will not be affected. The additional bill, H.R. 4887, states that all veterans’ care programs administrated by the Department of Veterans Affairs and Department of Defense will meet the individual responsibility requirements that go into effect in 2014. The bill reinforces the existing language in the health care reform bill to reassure veterans that no veteran will be penalized or expected to purchase additional health insurance at any point. H.R. 4887 passed the House unanimously.


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Assistance offered to struggling taxpayers
While the number of tax returns filed is down slightly from last year, the average refund is up, according to statistics issued recently by the Internal Revenue Service.

Through March 11, Tennesseans had e-filed 1,337,645 returns, down about 1% compared to the same time last year; however, 520,545 Tennesseans had e-filed from their own computers, up 7.7% over last year.

IRS spokesman Dan Boone said, “People who are holding off filing their taxes because they owe and can't pay should contact the IRS about payment options. We encourage Tennesseans to visit one of the five IRS assistance centers open Saturday, March 27, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. to assist struggling taxpayers.”

IRS taxpayer assistance centers in Chattanooga, Johnson City, Knoxville, Memphis, and Nashville will be open Saturday, March 27. Those IRS centers and the one in Jackson are also open weekdays from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Boone said taxpayers can also visit www.irs.gov for information about payment options or can call the IRS toll-free at 1-800-829-1040.

Statistics show that while the overall number of tax returns filed this year is down slightly, more than 82% of the 69 million returns received this year have come in via e-file. Home usage of e-file is up almost 7%.

Taxpayers can check their eligibility for these credits and deductions on the IRS website at IRS.gov/recovery. This special section also contains instructions on how to claim the available tax incentives and provides answers to frequently asked questions. Detailed information is available on the:

•Homebuyer Credit

•Making Work Pay Credit

•Economic Recovery Payments

•Earned Income Tax Credit

•American Opportunity Tax Credit

•Sales and excise tax deduction for new car purchases

•Energy incentives for homeowners

Details on other special tax incentives are also available on IRS.gov.


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Overton County News
415 West Main Street
P.O. Box 479
Livingston' Tennessee 38570
tel 931.823.6485
fax 931.823.6486
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